The trajectory of Pitt volleyball’s program is headed sharply upward and that momentum continued this week when the Panthers’ recruiting class was ranked No. 19 in the country by PrepVolleyball. This marks the first time the program has ever had a national ranking.
In all, Pitt brings in six recruits and a transfer — Lexis Akeo, Ashley Browske, Sadie Dick, Hali Hillegas, Chiamaka Nwokolo, Anastasia Russ, and Valeria Vazquez. The recruits cover every position on the court.
You can read more about all of them on Pitt’s website here but several things jump out. Akeo is the sister of recent graduate Kamalani Akeo and is also a setter. Pitt has Kylee Levers returning and she sort of split time with Kamalani last year, so Pitt has that position shored up a bit.
You might recall that Pitt also lost Angela Seman, the team’s starting libero, which is an important position. They’ve likely found her replacement in Hillegas, who will be a redshirt senior. Hillegas is transferring in from Iowa State and has earned all kinds of accolades. In 2018, she was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week multiple times. In 2017, she was an AVCA Honorable Mention American. Libero was my biggest concern going into next year. But Pitt not only may not miss a beat at libero — they could be improved there.
Finally, three of the six incoming freshmen (Akeo, Nwokola, and Russ) are all ranked in the Top 75 by Prep Volleyball. Russ is the highest ranked at No. 57.
Head coach Dan Fisher commented briefly on the class. “This is the most complete incoming class we’ve ever had, adding depth to every position on the court,” Fisher said. “This ranking is indicative of the growth of our program over the last few years. Our goals remain the same as we look to defend our ACC titles and compete for championships, and these new Panthers will certainly increase the level of competition in our gym.”
Great stuff here by Fisher who has positioned the program for long-time success.